Microsoft's big bet on the cloud is paying off

The technology company's big bet on cloud computing is paying off. Sales from Microsoft's cloud division hit $6.7 billion in the most recent quarter, a 7% gain from the same quarter a year earlier. That was fueled by the staggering growth of Azure, its cloud computing platform, which more than doubled.

Microsoft (MSFTTech30) says it's now on pace to generate more than $12 billion in sales annually from commercial cloud services.

The momentum from Microsoft's cloud efforts helped the company reach $22.6 billion in sales and $5.5 billion in net income for the quarter, beating Wall Street estimates on both counts.

Its stock was up as much as 4% in after hours trading following the release.

"The Microsoft Cloud is seeing significant customer momentum and we're well positioned to reach new opportunities in the year ahead," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement.

Microsoft has invested heavily to reposition itself as an industry leader in cloud services, rivaling businesses like Amazon (AMZNTech30). This has helped Microsoft cushion the blow from a failed investment in smartphones and a sagging PC market dragging down its Windows licensing sales.

Revenue from phones declined by 71% from the same quarter a year earlier. Microsoft also wrote down a $1.1 billion charge related to the fallout from its purchase of Nokia and subsequent restructuring in the phone division. Last year, it took a $7.6 billion charge for the Nokia deal.

While its cloud performance has been strong, the performance of Windows 10 has been less than it hoped for.

Microsoft admitted last week that it will miss an ambitious goal to have Windows 10 running on one billion devices by 2018 as a result of slower-than-expected upgrades and adoption.

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 China's 'Good Will Hunting?' Migrant worker solves complex math problem

Beijing (CNN)A Chinese migrant worker with no college degree has found a solution to a complex math problem -- in what appears to be a real life version of the Oscar-winning movie "Good Will Hunting."

Yu Jianchun, who works for a parcel delivery company, said he'd always had a passion for numbers and has created an alternative method to verify Carmichael numbers.
    His solution amazed academics, who said his proof was much more efficient than the traditional one.
    "It was a very imaginative solution," said Cai Tianxin, a math professor at Zhejiang University.
    "He has never received any systematic training in number theory nor taken advanced math classes. All he has is an instinct and an extreme sensitivity to numbers."
    Carmichael numbers are sometimes described as "pseudo primes" -- they complicate the task of determining true prime numbers, which are divisable only by 1 and itself. They play an important role in computer science and information security.
    Yu worked on his proof during his free time while building a new home in his village last year.
    "I was overwhelmed with joy, because my solution was completely different to the classic algorithm," said Yu.

    Exciting discovery

    William Banks, a mathematician at the University of Missouri, who works with Carmichael numbers said, if verified, an alternative proof would be an exciting discovery for his field.
    He said that the only construction of an infinite family of Carmichael number was done by academics 20 years ago.
    "There have been additional theoretical results in this area -- including several by myself and my co-authors -- but these are all variations on a theme," he said.
    Yu presented his proof -- along with solutions to four other problems -- to the public on June 13 at a graduate student seminar on the invitation of Cai.
    However, it took Yu more than eight years of writing letters to prominent Chinese mathematicians to get any recognition for his talent.
    Cai, the professor, says he will include Yu's solution in an upcoming book.

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    High school students built a bomb-seeking robot for the RNC

    During the summer, you'll likely find most kids in swimming pools, collecting Pokemon or at camp.

    Most kids.

    But for 20 Cleveland high school students, their summer has been devoted to building an all-terrain, bomb-seeking robot.

    A team from the Youth Technology Academy at Cuyahoga Community College built the bot in anticipation of the Republican National Convention, to rove the grounds around the Quicken Loans Arena.

    Professor George Bilokonsky oversees the program.

    "The robot's purpose is to scout ahead of time," he said.

    And thus, "Scoutbot" was born.

    The Cleveland Police Department needed something speedy and agile. And after encountering the team of wiz kids at a routine training session at the college, they thought the students were the perfect candidates for the job.

    "I wanted something simple, to check suspicious packages or whatever, and do it quickly," Sargent Tim Maffo-Judd of Cleveland Police's bomb squad told CNN. That was six months ago.

    Now, the RNC is upon us -- and thanks to Bilkonsky's "technology gang," as he calls them, "Scoutbot" is ready to hit the streets.

    But why was it needed in the first place?

    "Our main bomb bot can go up and down stairs, shoot things, and blow things up," said Maffo-Judd. "But it takes 20 minutes to set up."  

    That's precious time that officers could be using to disarm the threat.

    "Scoutbot," which looks a lot like a supped-up toy car, can be rolling in just five minutes. It has six wheels and is equipped with a 360-degree camera, night vision and has a range of 400 feet. Made mostly of aluminum and some 3-D printed parts, Scoutbot is just 12 inches tall, 18 inches long, and 6 inches wide. Its small size enables it to get into tight spaces, like under cars, to look for bombs or other suspicious items.

    The robot was funded by a $500 grant from a Cleveland Police foundation and the rest was put together with spare parts from around the shop at Cuyahoga Community College, according to Bilokonsky.

    "You have to think outside the box as a bomb tech, and that's what these kids did," Maffo-Judd said.

    The students were thrilled to be tasked with the assignment.

    "It feels like an honor and privilege to be able to work with the bomb squad on a project that they can use for the future and help keep people safe," Mark Hairston, 17, told CNN. "It was a little daunting at first, but over time, as it developed into the actual robot and we could see what it was becoming, it felt pretty good."

    For many of the students, it was their first time interacting with police.

    "You know, I never thought I'd be building a robot with a bunch of high school kids," said Maffo-Judd. "I'm proud to be apart of it, and those kids are a thousand times smarter than I'll ever be."

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